I’ve never been a huge fan of Mother’s Day.
My mother always had such high expectations of the day. It was the one day of the year she craved to bask in my love and attention.
I didn’t think she was a great mom. I felt like such a liar when I had to fake my gratefulness for “everything” she did for me. You can probably relate to how I resented this.
Some years, I just couldn’t fake it and would send a card or text out of obligation. Her disappointment was always so palpable when I did this.
So, no matter how I played it, I ended up feeling horrible.
Thus: not a big fan of Mother’s Day at all.
Mother’s Day of 1999 was especially difficult
Mother’s Day of 1999 was especially difficult.
I just had my daughter, who was born on April 28th.
And then, just in time for Mother’s Day, a popular South African woman’s magazine published a short story I had written in my native language, Afrikaans.
It was a story about graduation. It was also about motherhood.
Flooded by the motherly hormones of pregnancy I wrote this short story a few months earlier.
I DID NOT write the story for my mom
I was adamant that I didn’t write the story for my mom.
That was not how she saw it. She was deeply touched by the story and bragged to everybody that I wrote it for her.
Which gave me just one more reason to hate Mother’s Day.
It has been 21 years since that little story was published. And every year around Mother’s Day it resurfaces from the internet. People still love it.
So, this year I translated it into English, so that you can read it as well.
While translating and updating the story, I was amazed to realize how much my views and attituded towards my mom have changed.
It was great to reread the story from a place of repair, restoration and release
It was great to reread the story from a place of repair, restoration and release.
What made this transformation possible for me?
It wasn’t only one thing, but if I have to pinpoint the biggest factor, it was when I realized:
• And if I can handle my emotions, so can my mother.
Once I wasn’t trying so desperately to control her emotions, only so that I could feel better, I felt freer and not so trapped.
That created the break-through for me.
Now I can gift my little story to her with all my love.
I want to gift this short piece of fiction to you, too.
This is how it starts …
“You can’t wear a T-shirt to a graduation ceremony!” I complain.
Eric holds his gown tightly closed, but I can see his shirt has no collar.
“And how many graduation ceremonies have you attended?”
It’s a low blow; he knows how my lack of formal education bothers me.
The year Eric turned fourteen, his father decided to trade me in for a younger model, one without stretch marks on her stomach. When I called to ask if he wanted to come to graduation, he just said, “I have another appointment.”
Actually, I didn’t want to invite him; it’s not as if he’s contributed a penny to Eric’s education.
The year Eric turned fourteen, he started listening to that music. Songs that kept on and on without any tune; all you’d hear was thug-thug-thug. Sometimes I regretted his father not taking the sound system too.
“Are you done?” I ask. “The ceremony starts in an hour and we still have to find parking.”
“Relax, I’m going to throw a few eggs in a pan first.”
“No! You’ll mess up your clothes. Just have coffee.”
And in his fourteenth year, he started hanging out with those friends. Dudes with bangs covering their eyes, who always wore black. What were the teens grieving for? For their own or their parents’ lost lives?
His friends’ parents were all much wealthier than me and when he said he wanted to go to college, I panicked.
Eric wants to be an accountant. I’m proud that he’s inherited my head for numbers. Of all the debtors’ clerks at work, I’m the most accurate.
For extra money, I started baking and decorating birthday cakes on the side. Often till 2 am. Eric got a part-time job as a server. Between the two of us we only just afforded the tuition every year.
We did not fight less …